The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Dec. 19 launched an emergency appeal to raise 20 million Swiss Francs ($21.6 million) to help 400,000 people whose homes have been destroyed by Typhoon Rai that struck the Philippines last week.
At its strongest, the typhoon packed sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts of up to 168 mph before it blew out Friday into the South China Sea. Police revealed that at least 208 people were killed, 52 remained missing, and 239 were injured.
IFRC described Typhoon Rai as “one of the most powerful storms on record” to hit the southern Philippines that had caused “complete carnage” in the coastal areas.
“The emergency appeal that we have launched in support of the Philippine Red Cross will enable relief and longer-term assistance. We need to be ready to urgently increase support as the full extent of the disaster becomes clear,” Alberto Bocagnera, head of the Philippine Country Office at IFRC, said in a statement.
The typhoon lashed more than 700,000 people in central island provinces, including more than 400,000 who had to be moved to emergency shelters.
Police, soldiers, and the coast guard rescued thousands of residents, including in the riverside town of Loboc in hard-hit Bohol province, where residents were trapped on roofs and trees to escape from rising floodwaters.
Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said the organization had provided urgent relief to the victims, but claimed it’s not sufficient as international aid would still be “vital” for people whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by the typhoon.
“Filipinos are rallying together with courage, but after losing everything in this savage storm, international support will enable hundreds of thousands of people to rebuild their homes and decimated livelihoods,” Gordon stated.
Meanwhile, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to raise 2 billion pesos ($40 million) in aid to augment his initial 2 billion pesos commitment to aid the recovery of provinces devastated by Typhoon Rai.
Duterte visited Bohol province on Sunday to assess the situation there and led the distribution of assistance to the typhoon survivors.
“So we gave P2 billion, and you’ll divide the amount. We’ve already started giving assistance, so I’ll look for another P2 billion,” Duterte said, while imploring the people to be patient as the government had spent the majority of its budget on the pandemic response.
Duterte also said that the National Housing Authority would build 5,000 to 30,000 houses for the typhoon survivors.
“Just don’t be selfish, just wait for your turn. We will have to help first those who have nothing right now. But for those whose houses are still intact and just need some repairs, you’ll be next to receive help,” he remarked.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.